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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Waving at the Train

My Dad died in September of 1996.  My cousin Mike, who is a quadriplegic, drove alone from Florida to Rocky Mount, North Carolina to attend the funeral.  The day of the funeral my cousin, Mike told us a story about Dad that we did not know, nor are we to ever forget.

When Mike was a teenager, his Mother and Father let him ride the train alone from Florida to see a friend in Maryland.  As most trains did in those days from Florida, they went through Rocky Mount to arrive at their destination. 

Mike told us that he had never really felt connected to his Uncles and cousins in North Carolina.  He visited us maybe once every three or so years, but we always remained strangers to him.  But all that changed on this train ride.

Mike’s mother called my father and told him about Mike’s trip on the train.  My Dad called the train station to find out the arrival time.  He discovered that the train would not stop, but simply pass through the Rocky Mount station at 3:00 am.  So, just before that time, he went to the station and waited on the platform for Mike’s train.

Mike had asked the conductor to wake him when the train approached the Rocky Mount station so that he could look out the window and see the town where his mother had grown up.  As he looked out the window, the Rocky Mount station drew near.

“I could see someone standing on the platform in the distance and as we got closer I could see that it was your dad standing under a lamp post on the platform waving at the train.  I don’t think he saw me but I saw him- and suddenly I knew that someone in that town knew me and cared for me; cared enough for me to come out to the train station at 3:00 in the morning and wave to a train.  He didn’t even see me, but he waved anyway.”

Love can be found in the most unusual places; on a deserted train platform at 3:00 in the morning; in the wave of a person who does not even see you; in a memory on a long car ride from Florida; on the day of a funeral; in the words of a cousin you barely knew.

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